My Xubuntu Customization Guide

Show Your Desktop Friday was popular in open-source groups, but its popularity has declined recently. Let’s fix that. Here’s how I customize Xubuntu to my liking.



  • Distribution: Xubuntu 17.04
  • Desktop Environment: Xfce
  • Window Manager: Xfwm4
  • Dock: Plank



  • Default: Fira Sans Book 10 (GitHub, PPA)
  • Window Manager: Fira Sans SemiBold 10
  • Monospace: Ubuntu Mono (Launchpad)


Convict Lake. Autumn View (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0, Clint Sharp)

Panel Plugins

  • Whisker Menu (Homepage)
  • AppMenu Plugin (See WebUpd8 for details and PPA)
  • Notification Area
  • Power Manager Plugin
  • Indicator Plugin
  • Clock
  • Weather Update
  • System Load Monitor
  • Show Desktop


# Papirus Icon Theme PPA
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:papirus/papirus

# Fira Fonts PPA
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:bluesabre/fonts

# WebUpd8 MATE PPA (Contains AppMenu plugin)
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/mate

# Update Your Repositories...
sudo apt update

# ... And Install!
sudo apt install breeze-cursor-theme greybird-gtk-theme papirus-icon-theme fonts-fira-sans xfce4-vala-appmenu-plugin unity-gtk3-module unity-gtk2-module appmenu-qt appmenu-qt5

# Enable the AppMenu plugin
xfconf-query -c xsettings -p /Gtk/ShellShowsMenubar -n -t bool -s true
xfconf-query -c xsettings -p /Gtk/ShellShowsAppmenu -n -t bool -s true

# Restart, configure your panel, and tweak your settings in the settings manager

Tips & Tricks

  • Adwaita uses a white panel by default in Xfce. Use gtk-theme-config to make the panel dark again
  • With GTK+ 3, you can force applications to load with a dark theme by setting the GTK_THEME environment variable, for example: GTK_THEME=Adwaita:dark
  • You can take this one step further and use the CSD titlebars by setting the GTK_CSD environment variable, for example: GTK_CSD=1
  • If you want to use these variables in a launcher, fire up MenuLibre and prepend env GTK_CSD=1 GTK_THEME=Adwaita:dark to the executable line

Additional Screenshots